This Easter holiday, we decided to go to Hexham to visit Roman Fort of Housesteads, Chesters and Vindolanda. It is very easy to visit these Forts using bus AD122. We use Hexham as our base. And might as well because bus AD122 departs and returns back to Hexham. I would say that in one day you can visit two forts. But if you are really into Hadrians’s wall, you may want to spend one fort for a whole day.
Day 1 Housesteads Roman Fort
We visited Housesteads as our first destination. The weather was so awful. It is cold and windy. It was 31st of March though, so you may prefer summer to visit this site.
Housesteads Roman Fort is located on top of the hill. So be ready to hike upside the hill. It can be muddy and slippery, so best to wear appropriate shoes.
There is a famous Roman toilet, but due to the wind and gust, I was not able to take the picture!
There is a little museum in the middle way to the hill where you can watch a video about Roman Housesteads and see their Roman findings.
The museum really help me during the cold day, because I really need a warm place to sit and a warm drink to cope with the weather!
Credits to a staff member who gave us a sip of wine to warm us up before we see the Fort!
The view from the top is amazing! I can imagine a Roman soldier can see for miles if the enemies are coming!
Housesteads is a Roman Auxiliary Fort, meaning that the soldier who guarded the Fort is from the Auxiliary regiment. It is not a Legionary Fort. Auxiliary I think is like an adjacent or additional regiment besides the main one – which is the Legionary.
Unlike the Legionary soldier, the auxiliary soldier is not a Roman citizen, and can be given a Roman citizen after 25 years of service. Wow even in Roman times, there are immigration and citizenship privilege to the soldiers who serve the Empire! Strangely enough this immigration and citizenship differences has already existed 2000 years ago!
Well, I am confused of the picture below, it maybe a Roman Toilet, or it maybe a Principia (Headquarter).
My husband told me that the auxiliary soldiers in Houseteads Fort are from the first cohort of Tungrians which is a tribe that located in Belgium. They are infantry soldiers which using foot on their combat.
The picture below shows the Headquarter place or the heart of the fort.
And here are some (I believe) soldier barracks.
I am not quite sure how many individuals live in one barrack. But from the picture above, you can see that the space is very small. Do they use double-deck bed?
As you can see from the picture below, originally there was a marvellous gate as the entrance to the Fort.
If I am not mistaken, Hadrian’s wall are not only existed in North England, but also in Europe and North Africa. So Emperor Hadrian clearly instructed to build frontier walls throughout the Empire.
Day 2 Chesters and Vindolanda Roman Fort
On the day 2, we decided to visit two Roman Forts. We purchade a Day ticket on bus AD122 to visit both Forts.
Chesters Roman Fort
Around 25 minutes bus ride from Hexham, there is the Chesters Roman Fort.
I am so glad that the weather is a little bit improved on this day.
At first, we decided to visit the Clayton museum. John Clayton is the person who preserved much of the Chesters Fort during Victorian time. He is a keen collector and his collections are on display at his museum.
Clayton I think is having a huge interest into this Fort and into Roman antiquities. In his museum, we can see a network of people who support him, including some that had identifying and cataloguing the objects.
We opted for a free guided tour provided by the English Heritage. We were so impressed by the knowledge of the Tour Guide. He knows everything about Chesters Fort and about Hadrian Walls. The tour took about 1.5 hours and we saw almost every single bit of the Fort.
I think some parts of the Fort are located outside the Hadrians Wall and some of the Fort are inside the Wall.
The auxiliary soldiers in the Chesters Fort are from Spain. They are (probably) the ninth cohort of the Asturians. Asturians are the cavalry soldiers that ride horses.
The picture below shows a Roman ditch, probably to flow hot water (?).
There is a well preserved Roman bath at the Chesters Fort.
I can imagine how beautiful it is having a bath with the view of the river! Well done Romans!
When going to see the bath, we saw this lovely Northumberland countryside scenery.
The picture below shows the private house of the Commander.
Don’t forget using a One Day AD122 Bus ticket, you can continue your travel to another Fort.
Vindolanda Roman Fort
About 30 minutes from Chesters Roman Fort, we use the bus AD122 to go to Vindolanda Roman Fort.
It is quite a big complex and you will need a lot of walking.
The Vindolanda Fort is quite impressive. You can see the military settlement as well as a small ‘Vicus’ local settlement.
The picture below shows Principia or the Headquarter building – the most important building in the entire Fort.
The auxiliary soldiers at Vindolanda Fort are formerly the ninth cohort of Batavians. They are from the Netherlands (Holland) area and they are partly cavalry (soldiers with horses). On a later date, Vindolanda Fort is being filled by the fourth cohort of Gauls (French area).
There are continuous excavations going on in Vindolanda.
There is a Roman Temple too!
The Fort ruins are quite extensive!
I have seen a stone – which I believe is a Roman stone! It is so colourful! Perhaps it is part of a building wall?
There is also a Roman Pub! It says that it is a Tavern.
Below is the private house of the Commander/Prefect.
There is an impressive Museum too at Vindolanda.
The most famous treasure from Vindolanda is the Vindolanda Tablets. The tablet shows an early hand-writing evidence available in Britain history. Some of the tablets are written by women too (I think the correspondence between Prefect wife’s to another Prefect’s wife). These are so important making them the early evidence of women’s writing in Britain.
Some of the writing are in informal words and it is interesting to see the everyday lives of people living within the Fort.
One of the Tablets also show the strength of the army. It is an important piece of evidence regarding the military strength at the Vindolanda Fort.
Nice excample of Roman gold found in Vindolanda.
They also found some intaglios!
Interesting Roman combs! Amazing to see people already use combs since 2000 years ago! And the combs shape haven’t been changed much!
There is a lovely Cafe too, you you can get your lunch and snack there! It is good to re-charge your energy before walking around the Fort!
There is a reconstruction building of the Fort (I think in real scale) which is amazing!
It was a lovely trip to see these Roman Fort at the Hadrian’s Wall. I can’t believe there are so many Forts all along the Wall! The Romans are so obsessed building its frontier defence!